Because the English language is an international language, it is very hard to create one written language, that is easy to read and is usable in daily life.

The best way to create an alphabet for English, that we have realised so far, is to create only one way of writing that is used by all English speakers, no matter their accent. This creates a “Modern Standard English”. Within this one way of writing, there may be a few exceptions, where some words are spelled differently in some accents. But overall, the spelling stays the same.

Please find the EEA below, along with a basic pronunciation guide with corresponding phonetic equivalents in IPA:

Below is the more detailed alphabet list with explanations and examples to give more clarity into how and why each letter has been chosen to represent each of the sounds of English:

Single Letters of the Expressive English Alphabet:

Ay ay – mate (IPA: and all equivalents)

A a – apple (IPA: æ / ɑː and all equivalents)

This letter is used almost always to sybolise the æ/ɑː sounds. Ususally, these sounds are fairly interchangeable within English, for example, chance could be chænce or chɑːnce. So we can use just one letter to symbolise both. However, sometimes, very rarely, we need to differentiate between these two sounds.

Ò ò – hot (IPA: ɑ / ɒ and all equivalents)

If an ɑ or ɒ sound comes before an ‘r’, then it is written as ‘ar’, not as ‘ơr’. This letter is the most common letter to symbolise the ɑ/ɒ sounds.

Aa aa – palm (IPA: ɑː / ɑ and all equivalents)

This letter combination is only used in a few certain instances, when it is unclear which sound is supposed to be made and it is important that the correct pronunciation is conveyed.

Ar ar – are (IPA: ɑː / ɑːr / ɑr)

Whenever the A is followed by an R, it is pronounced as ɑː/ɑːr/ɑr, as in ‘are’ or ‘art’. The R, of course, can be silent, depending on your accent, but it is always written.

Ae ae – paragraph (IPA: æ and all equivalents)

This letter combination is only used in a few certain instances, when it is unclear which sound is supposed to be made and it is important that the correct pronunciation is conveyed.

R r  – run (IPA: r and all equivalents)

This letter can be silent in non-rhotic accents (when the ‘r’ is not pronounced before consonants).

Ou ou – more / law (IPA: ɔː / ɔ and all equivalents)

Oy oy – boy (IPA: ɔɪ and all equivalents)

O o – over (IPA: / əʊ / (l) / əʊ(l) and all equivalents)

For some speakers, the sound of the ‘o’ in ‘old’ may be different to the ‘o’ sound in ‘over’. If that’s the case, just use O for both sounds.

B b – blue (IPA: b)

Ie ie – he (IPA: and all equivalents)

E e – red (IPA: ɛ and all equivalents)

I ı – away (IPA: ə)

Ì ì – her (IPA: ɜː and all equivalents)

This may be pronounced the same as ı above. If that’s the case, know that any time the ı is stressed in a word, it becomes a ì.

İ i – bin (IPA: ɪ and all equivalents)

Iy iy – eye (IPA: and all equivalents)

H h – hill (IPA: h)

C c – kill and loch (IPA: k / x and all equivalents)

Some speakers may pronounce a guttural ‘kh’ sound (x) instead of a C (k) in some words, like ‘loch‘ in Scottish accents, or ‘back‘ in a Scouse accent. Just use the letter C for each of these sounds.

G g – go (IPA: g)

L l – like (IPA: l / ɫ and all equivalents)

W w – we / what (IPA: w / ʍ and all equivalents)

Some speakers will pronounce a ‘wh’ sound (ʍ) instead of just a ‘w’ in some words. If you do this, then just use the letter W for both.

M m – mat (IPA: m)

N n – no (IPA: n)

И ŋ – sing (IPA: ŋ and all equivalents)

P p – power (IPA: p)

S s – sip (IPA: s)

Sh sh – she (IPA: ʃ)

Zh zh – vision (IPA: ʒ)

Z z – zebra (IPA: z)

V v – very (IPA: v)

J j – jump (IPA: )

D d – dog (IPA: d / sometimes the D can sound like a , as in ‘during’)

Dr dr – drive (IPA: dʒr / dr)

Ţh ţh – this (IPA: ð and all equivalents)

T t – time / partner (IPA: t / ʔ and all equivalents)

Some speakers may replace a T with a glottal stop (ʔ) while speaking.

For example, in the Cockney accent, the word ‘matter’ would sound more like ‘maʔer’. The stopping sound in the middle of the word is the glottal stop (ʔ). Because the T and the glottal stop are usually interchangeable, both are represented in the Expressive English Alphabet by just the one letter T.

Ch ch – chip (IPA: )

Ţr ţr – train (IPA: tʃr)

Tr tr – train (IPA: tr)

F f – find (IPA: f)

Th th – thin (IPA: θ and all equivalents)

Ow ow – down (IPA: and all equivalents)

U u – do (IPA: / ʊə and all equivalents)

Ú ú – would (IPA: ʊ and all equivalents)

Ù ù – up (IPA: ʌ and all equivalents)

Yy – yet (IPA: j)

Some Common Letter Combinations of the Expressive English Alphabet:

In this alphabet, there are many common sounds that are not represented by just one letter. The combinations below may not be used in your accent. It’s possible that you may not add a I (ə) after the below letters, and instead keep them as single letters.

Ayı ayı – mail (IPA: eɪ-ə)

Oyı oyı – boil (IPA: ɔɪ-ə)

Owı owı – hour (IPA: aʊ-ə)

Ieı ieı – here (IPA: ɪə)

eı eı – there (IPA: ɛə)

Iyı iyı – tyre (IPA: aɪ-ə)

Gz gz – example (IPA: gz)

Cs cs – text (IPA: ks)

Grammatical Differences in the Expressive English Alphabet:

No Apostraphes:

In this alphabet, we don’t use apostraphes (‘) within words. For example, in traditional English spelling, an apostraphe will be added before an S at the end of a word to indicate possesion or to shorten the word ‘is’ (Paul‘s / It‘s). Other examples of apostraphes being used to shorten words would be ‘isn’t’ or ‘can’t’.

In EEA, apostraphes are not written within words as mentioned above. So, ‘Paul’s’ would be written as ‘Polz’. ‘It’s’ would be written as ‘its’. ‘Isn’t’ would be written as ‘izınt’. ‘Can’t’ would be written as ‘cant’.

Capital Letters:

In EEA, capital letter rules are the same as traditional English.

So, capitalize every starting letter of each sentence and every starting letter of a proper noun, like a name of a person or place.

Compound Words:

In EEA, there are no compound words joined by a hyphen. This means words like ‘time-keeper’ and ‘king-maker’, would be written as separate words in EEA.

For example: time-keeper = ‘tiym ciepır’ / king-maker = ‘ciŋ maycır’.

If you want to have a look at what this alphabet looks like in context, please go to our Read page.

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